Vatican City, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - The movement toward Christian unity is not a choice for the Church but an inherent part of its life and actions, said Pope John Paul II in a message to a plenary of cardinals and bishops on ecumenical dialogue.
The pontiff told members of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity's plenary to continue on the road toward Christian unity, despite obstacles, in a spirit of intense ecumenical spirituality.
“The ecumenical journey is not an easy one,” he said in a message addressed to Walter Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
“The prospective of full communion can at times cause reactions of grief and sorrow among those who wish to accelerate the process at all costs or in those who become discouraged by the long journey still ahead,” said the Pope. As ecumenical dialogue progresses, the obstacles and difficulties become clearer, he said.
“We, however, are learning to live with humble trust this intermediary period,” he said. “We want to overcome together the contrasts and difficulties. We want to recognize the delays facing unity. We want to re-establish the desire for reconciliation where it seems threatened by suspicion and reluctance.”
Christ’s prayer and desire before his Passion was for unity among his disciples, the Pope said. Because of this, Church feels called to spend its every energy toward Christian unity.
There is no other choice but for the Church to work toward Christian unity, said the Pope. “The movement in favor of Christian unity is not only some appendix, which is added to the Church’s traditional activities,” said the pontiff. “On the contrary, it belongs organically to the Church’s life and actions.
“I am sure that the cardinals, archbishops and bishops, as well as the experts gathered at the plenary are fully aware of the urgency with which the Church has to move the full communion of all Christians forward,” he said.
The pope called the movement toward Christian unity one of the great pastoral solicitudes of his pontificate. He thanked God for the important and significant steps he has been able to make in ecumenical dialogue during his pontificate.
“Forty years after the Second Vatican Council… we can look back at the road we’ve travelled and recognize that we have completed a considerable portion and that we have entered into the very heart of the most sorrowful divisions,” said the Pope.
He also highlighted the importance of prayer in the movement of Christian unity, noting that the progress in recent years must be attributed to prayer.
Over the past years, many initiatives have been taken to promote Christian prayer. Among these initiatives the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity deserves to be particularly encouraged, said the pontiff, who again encouraged Catholics to pray daily for Christian unity.
In order to move forward on the path toward Christian unity, said the pope, there is the need for an intense ecumenical spirituality.
, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - The consecration of the first openly gay bishop in the United States, sanctioned by the Episcopal Church U.S.A., has created a rift among the 70-million member Anglican communion.
Gene V. Robinson’s consecration as bishop of New Hampshire yesterday has generated a reaction from Anglican bishops around the world, many of whom have said they will not recognize Robinson as bishop.
Citing church resolutions stating that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture, some bishops are calling on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to create a new structure that will allow churches to remain in communion but separate from the American Episcopalian church.
"As far as I am concerned, he (Robinson) is not a bishop," Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen told Reuters yesterday, calling it a very sad day for the church."
However, the strongest reaction against the consecration came from the non-Western world, particularly from Africa.
Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the largest Anglican diocese in Africa with 17 million members, said he would refuse to recognize Bishop Robinson, no matter what church leaders decided.
Bishop Akinola issued a statement on behalf of 50 million Anglicans in Africa, Asia and Latin America yesterday, saying that they deplore the act of those bishops who took part and supported the consecration. The statement also called on the Anglicans' spiritual leader, Archbishop of Centerbury Rowan Williams, to create a new structure that will allow churches to remain in communion but separate from the Episcopal Church U.S.A.
Uganda, the second largest Anglican diocese in Africa, and Kenya also said it would not recognize the consecration or remain in communion with the Episcopal Church U.S.A.
South Africa’s Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane is the only African leader that approves of Bishop Robinson’s consecration while other South African church leaders are against it.
Archbishop Greg Venables, the Anglican leader in South America, told the BBC that the Anglican communion is facing a serious possibility of division. He said the problem is that Anglicans dont have a pope or a central committee to resolve the issue.
"We have an Archbishop of Canterbury, but he is a leader in England with moral authority throughout the world but he has no vertical authority," he told the BBC. "What's happened is that the United States have declared independence."
Archbishop Williams, who is trying to keep the church together, said is a statement that the divisions are "a matter of deep regret."
, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - Louisiana is poised to elect its first Catholic governor in more than 100 years. The two frontrunners in the upcoming state election Nov. 15 are both Catholics running for office in a state with deep anti-Catholic roots.
Republican Bobby Jindal, who would become the first Indian-American governor, and Democrat Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who would become the first female governor, have both spoken of their faith publicly. They claim to be pro-life and to favor the ban of partial-birth abortions recently approved by Congress.
However, the two candidates differ in their pro-life stance. While Blanco thinks abortions should be legal in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, Jindal does not favor abortions under any circumstances. Jindal also supports the public display of the Ten Commandments, the teaching of creationism in schools and government aid to faith-based initiatives.
According to the Times-Picayune, Jindal’s standard speech includes at least a passing mention of his faith often speaking about his teenage conversion.
Blanco is much less vocal about her faith and usually only speaks about it when asked. She tends to keep to economic issues and her record of public service, said the Times-Picayune, adding that she has at times shied away from hot social issues such as abortion and reluctantly relented to answering them. However, the newspaper reported that she said she would sign a bill outlawing abortion if it reflected her views.
With the exception of Edwin Edwards, Louisiana’s last Catholic governor was Samuel Douglas McEnery, who left office in 1888. Though Edwards, who was elected in 1972, claimed to be Catholic, he created major controversy when he said he didn't believe that Christ literally rose from the dead.
Louisiana’s anti-Catholic history goes back to the early 20th century when huge European Catholic migration to the U.S. century created suspicion among many Protestants, explained William Maestri of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Each group tended to stick with their own kind and this was evident in the polls as well, creating clear political divisions along religious lines. Hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, targeted Catholics as well.
But political observers now say that such distinctions have disappeared, especially since Protestants and Catholics have found themselves working together more on common social issues, such as abortion.
Caracas, Venezuela, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, issued a statement this week denouncing the damage done to the Archdiocesan Cathedral by a group of homosexual activists, who smeared the front wall of the church with insults against Catholics.
Last weekend the Argentinean version of the so-called “Gay Pride Parade” brought together 4,000 transvestites, lesbians and homosexuals for a march through the main streets of the capital city. Homosexual activists carried out threats they had made earlier that they intended to defame the Cathedral of the Archdiocese.
Cardinal Bergoglio denounced the actions and said, “In a pluralist society, when minority groups wish to express themselves, it seems logical they would do so respecting the religious feelings of the majority. If the majority of people here are Catholic, the graffiti smeared all over the exterior of the Cathedral is an offense against the religious sensibilities of the Argentinean people.”
He also lamented the “lack of respect for a church which, besides being a place of worship and belonging to Catholics, has been a privileged witness to the history of Argentineans, and is a National Historical Monument where our founding father is buried. Therefore this violent attitude helps deteriorate a public, religious and historical building which ought to be restored again.”
The statement expresses the Archdiocese’s desire that “it be understood that when we speak of the doctrine concerning sexual conduct as expressed in Magisterial teaching, we do so based on the truths that we believe, but never apart from an attitude of respect and understanding towards the person. One would hope therefore that in a free country one could dissent from these ideas without injuring others or the institutions which they represent.”
Premeditated attack Although parade organizers, with the help of some local officials, claim no involvement, ACI-Prensa has acquired the parade announcement that explicitly called on participants to deface the Cathedral.
Authorities were informed by pro-family groups of the intention to damage the church but they claim they were unable to control the outbreak of aggression. Homosexual activists marched to the Cathedral door a few minutes after the parade began and spray-painted the front of the church.
Some of the graffitti read, “The Church is a dictatorship” and “The Holy Inquisition’s repression is here.”
Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - The Fides News Agency is reporting the death of Salesian Father Pasquale Liberatore, postulator of the cause of beatification of Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani Pasquale.
The Salesian priest died October 31 at the age of 71. He was the Salesian Congregation’s general postulator of the causes of the saints.
Father Liberatore was born in Palazzao San Gervasio on March 27, 1932. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1958 and held various posts at the Salesian Headquarters.
According to Fides, in September of 1990, “he was summoned to the offices of the Salesian Superior and since 1992 he was general postulador of the causes the saints, a task he carried out with much dedication.”
Madrid, Spain, Nov 4, 2003 (CNA) - More than 3,000 scientists and experts have joined the 350,000 Spanish citizens calling on the Minister of Health, Ana Pastor, to address once and for all the problem of a growing accumulation of frozen embryos.
A group called, “There Are Alternatives,” which is registering the protests, denounces Pastor for initially claiming to resolve the problem by modifying a law on in vitro fertilization, but “the protocol can be changed only at the pleasure of the Ministry of Health, without any oversight, and as such the protection granted to embryos is minimal.”
Rafael Rubio, a spokesman for the group “There Are Alternatives,” announced it will send the Minister of Health a report explaining why the proposed changes by the Minister of Health will not alter the rate of accumulation of frozen embryos, which currently total 30,000.
Rubio explained that the “current exceptions for prohibiting the freezing of embryos do not provide any guarantee for the protection of embryos and repeat the mistake of condemning them to freezing without any future options.” The decision is left in the hands of “doctors and clinics with obvious economic interests” without any control by the people. “The issue is left to the discretion of a handful of professionals who so far have shown little care in preventing the freezing of embryos,” he said.
Various government officials share the concerns of Rubio, who says the new reforms do not state what will be done with embryos that are left frozen for years and are not implanted into their biological mothers or an adoptive mother.